Concerns about empty houses in Brighton and Hove

The number of vacant council houses and flats has fallen, but the vacant houses – or vacancies – are likely to cut the town hall coffers by more than £1million this year.

The figures were announced at a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council at Hove Town Hall.

Conservative councilwoman Anne Meadows asked how many council houses were empty after raising concerns about delays in carrying out repairs and maintenance.

She told the council’s housing committee that rent losses from vacant houses were expected to total £1.34million in the current financial year. This was more than double the original budget of £636,000.

Green Councilman David Gibson, the committee’s co-chair, said the number of vacant properties had fallen from 210 in May to 170 late last month.

Councilor Gibson also said the council is re-letting properties more quickly, taking 150 days instead of 177 days before.

He said the average re-letting time still had a “long way to go” as the numbers included properties that had long been vacant during the coronavirus pandemic.

Delays have occurred because Covid-19 has impacted staffing levels and contractor capacity, he said.

The projected rental loss had fallen to just over £1million, with a £721,000 increase in missed rental budget in what Councilor Gibson described as a “big shift”.

He hopes that the rent losses will be closer to budget by the end of the year.

He also said that the number of new rentals of apartments had increased, with 472 apartments going to new tenants in the past fiscal year – 2021-22.

That number was higher than the pre-pandemic level of 445 per year.

Councilor Gibson said: “We are now operating at a higher level than before the pandemic.

“In August, the service rented 62 empty public housing units. So if you multiply that by 12 you get an enormous number that would be very impressive if this could be sustained.”

In the first quarter of 2022-23, the number of households in the housing register was 7,592, compared to 7,686 in the last quarter of 2021-22.

READ MORE: Worry about empty public housing Concerns about empty houses in Brighton and Hove

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